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Old 11-11-2021, 02:36 AM   #1
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Default Why 4x4 or AWD in Class Bs?

Many Sprinter van Class Bs have 4x4 chassis. Why? It adds about $8,000 in the price and reduces the payload (i.e. what you can build and carry) of about 300 lbs. The Ford Transit adds about $5,000 for their AWD and I couldnít find their payload difference.

I think ARV has built more short vans of 144Ē wheel base than 2WD. In nearly 17 years Iíve never driven on a road or path requiring or desiring 4WD and I am not about to with an expensive van jostling the interior. And Iíve been just about everywhere. Iíve driven in the deep snow a few times without incident. I attended the Winter Freezeout at Tahquamenon Falls SP on Michiganís numerous times in deep snow and will do so again this January.

I did get the factory 2Ē lifts installed in 4x4a in my 2WD. I didnít ask for them but they beefed up my suspension in many ways. I kind of liked that aspect though I am not worried in a short van of bottoming out and the Sprinter has more clearance than Transit or Promaster. Is Promaster even capable including 3rd Party?

After that prolog,so, the question again is why?
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Old 11-11-2021, 03:41 AM   #2
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For us it is snow. All our vehicles are awd (except sprinter). I can’t tell you the number of times I have passed a stuck car with spinning wheels while going up a hill during a storm. And, yes, we love camping in the snow.
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Old 11-11-2021, 03:57 PM   #3
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Depends on your use. Our strong preference for PM over Sprinter and Transit limits us to 2WD. Its FWD is great for snow, but we miss some enticing trails because their trailheads are miles up 4WD/high clearance roads.
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Old 11-11-2021, 08:12 PM   #4
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There is clearly a group of Class B owners that are using these RV's entirely different than the average "camper." I have seen these off road modified Class B's traveling across mud, rivers, rock crawling, extreme hunting destinations, etc. that I wouldn't even consider with my UTV. In fact, there is a whole industry established for these people including modifications, accessories, self extraction equipment, tires, etc.. You won't see these people in campgrounds or probably on internet forums much. To each his own.
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Old 11-11-2021, 08:24 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrobe View Post
There is clearly a group of Class B owners that are using these RV's entirely different than the average "camper." I have seen these off road modified Class B's traveling across mud, rivers, rock crawling, extreme hunting destinations, etc. that I wouldn't even consider with my UTV. In fact, there is a whole industry established for these people including modifications, accessories, self extraction equipment, tires, etc.. You won't see these people in campgrounds or probably on internet forums much. To each his own.
Do you think every Winnebago Revel owner is like what you describe? I see a lot of them in campgrounds in the Midwest I frequent.
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Old 11-11-2021, 08:54 PM   #6
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We stretch our PM's limits as far as we can. We avoid campgrounds. Many nights at trailheads. So we are somewhere between the extremes.
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Old 11-11-2021, 09:38 PM   #7
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We stretch our PM's limits as far as we can. We avoid campgrounds. Many nights at trailheads. So we are somewhere between the extremes.
Maybe the price or other downsides would not be worth raising your Promaster,
just not that many add'l trailheads?
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Old 11-11-2021, 10:25 PM   #8
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The campground Winnebago Revel crowd are mostly the off-road wannabes that will rarely see anything except blacktop. The true off-roaders are more like the Quigley true 4 wheel drive modified Class B's like some of the Sportsmobiles you see go past covered in mud out in Colorado, Utah, etc.. It wouldn't be my thing with an expensive van.
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Old 11-11-2021, 10:58 PM   #9
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Better performance in snow and slippery rain conditions are best reasons.

The Transit AWD system adds about 235 lbs. to base vehicle.

The AWD and 4x4 popularity for vans is mostly a status/style thing.

Same as most Jeep and AWD SUVs never go off road.
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Old 11-12-2021, 02:04 AM   #10
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Promasters do not take kindly to being lifted. CV joints get stressed and tend to break. Everything about these vans is a compromise, and I'd much rather have a 2WD PM than a 4WD anything else.


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Do you think every Winnebago Revel owner is like what you describe? I see a lot of them in campgrounds in the Midwest I frequent.
Not every one, but many. Probably the reason there aren't more is that young active people are less likely to be able to afford them.
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Old 11-12-2021, 03:45 PM   #11
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Better performance in snow and slippery rain conditions are best reasons.

The Transit AWD system adds about 235 lbs. to base vehicle.

The AWD and 4x4 popularity for vans is mostly a status/style thing.

Same as most Jeep and AWD SUVs never go off road.
Iíll confess. I probably would have considered a 4x4 Sprinter but I was fighting the weight restrictions an upfitter could add to a van and still deliver a Class B on a 2500 chassis for the design I proposed. I like the look especially in a short 144WB. Turned out the 2 inch MB lifts they put in the 4x4 could do it. So, I saved $7,000 and kept to 4 wheels. The 2500 still gives me an estimated 800 lbs. of equipment and supplies. Which is way more than I carried in an extended Sprinter. The extra height and the short overhang at the back wheels can get me everywhere I would attempt and I know I can get around in the snow in the relatively flat upper Midwest where I would attempt to drive in the winter.

I know 4WD is better in the snow and rain as we have had Subarus for several years and my personal toy car is a 2003 Subaru Baja pickup. But the extra cost is not justified when I try to stick with my 95% rule of if I donít need it, it can be discarded. The only thing I have now that violates that rule is a rooftop air conditioner that I rarely use.

The 2 inch lifts might be a vanity overkill. I had problems with an extended van 24 ft. Sprinter in two areas, driving onto a ramp on ferries and in the Southwest where the roads have storm water swales where you had to be careful to cross to get in service stations, restaurants and retail. I had bottomed out in both instances.
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Old 11-18-2021, 05:35 PM   #12
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Most forest service roads and BLM sites that we have tried did not need AWD/4WD, and that includes our prior experience with a TT and a 4WD Tundra tow vehicle. Clearance is another matter entirely. In our RWD Sprinter Ext, we have often wished for more clearance and are investigating.....YMMV
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Old 11-18-2021, 06:13 PM   #13
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Default 4WD also protects the environment

We have taken our Chevy-based Roadtrek 190 Popular with its Quigley 4x4 system on some of Michigan's forest roads numerous times. First of all, the 4x4 conversion gave us a 2-3" lift and while ground clearance is still an issue while off-road, every bit helps

In addition, we have been in some boondocking spots where conditions were just fine on the way in but weather conditions changed the site or the road in and out, so we were suddenly facing dry sand or wet mud instead of what we drove in on.

Jostling the van is a concern, so being able to crawl through rough spots rather than using momentum is a big help. And, finally, we sometimes engage 4WD when it means there is a chance that a wheel might slip or spin. We've seen too many people drive too quickly or spin their tires in situations while on forest roads that might help them get through a tricky spot but also digs a deeper hole and damages the surface of the environment much more than a slow crawl with 4WD would have done.

There is no perfect rig or perfect set-up that meets everyone's needs or desires. That's why there are so many options. And if someone's rig or set-up isn't right for you, that doesn't make it any less valuable for another person.
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Old 11-18-2021, 06:23 PM   #14
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You have to realize what and how you will be using your Class B van and your price point. We wanted to get out there and camp and escape to our local parks and beaches to enjoy a meal and relax during Covid. We stay at State Camp Grounds, Harvest Host locations and a few private RV parks. We have traveled to Colorado via Nevada, Arizona and Utah and driven to the PNW. we do not do offload much. A washboard road or two but don't do the off road travel. So we didn't need to pay the Sprinter price and to be honest we would not have a Class B if we did. We chose the Ram Solis Winnebago. Price point was something we could handle and the layout and features were happy with. We have owned it a year and have traveled 7 states in 10,000 miles. We just did a 2 night stay at a local camp ground with 6 Class B's 2 Solis, 1 Zion and 3 MB's, a private build out and 2 Pleasure Ways. Off to Thanksgiving in La Quinta and staying in my sisters driveway. We love it all.
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Old 11-18-2021, 08:55 PM   #15
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I would begin with installing a rear differential locking system. Next would be appropriate tires for the chosen environment. Then progress to a lift, lastly 4x4 or AWD.
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Old 11-19-2021, 12:36 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fawudd View Post
Most forest service roads and BLM sites that we have tried did not need AWD/4WD, and that includes our prior experience with a TT and a 4WD Tundra tow vehicle. Clearance is another matter entirely. In our RWD Sprinter Ext, we have often wished for more clearance and are investigating.....YMMV
Check my message right above yours. Advanced RV said they put the Mercedes Benz Sprinter factory lifts in my 2WD that they said also go into the 4WD. Could be a solution. I suspect there are other third party solutions. It lifts 2Ē. I donít know if I would want to lift much more. The step down especially from the sliding door would be too great for my liking.
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Old 11-19-2021, 12:59 AM   #17
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We love our 2012 2wd 190-Ranger Chevy 3500 Roadtrek, but there have been many times I recall wishing that we had 4wd. A good percentage of our travels have been/will be around the sparsely settled area of Canada, which contains large areas of wilderness crown land (open government land); much of which can only be accessed with a 4x4 using GPS and Google Earth to navigate the networks of old logging roads. We carry a 13 foot inflatable fishing kayak and would love to get at all those rarely visited lakes and streams.
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Old 11-20-2021, 03:57 PM   #18
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I have recently ordered a Storyteller Overland Stealth Mode, so this thread sparks interest. I’ve done extensive camping traveling in class b over the years. I’m out west and tend to enjoy campsites, BLM land, and forest service roads. As mentioned above, it’s rare that I NEED 4wd. However, I’ve found perfect spots in many areas that were safe going in, but then a light 20 min overnight rain, made them hell trying to get out. Traveling through the mountains in spring and early summer can be challenging with a surprise snow fall. I’ve had it happen to many times to count. The 4wd does a great job of removing the “pucker factor”.

I’ve also seen lots of Revels at campsites . Makes sense, because there’s so many wonderful campsites out there. But that is where most will see them in the wild. A bit of confirmation bias, because most will not have the capability to see them off-road.

I went back and forth on the purchase of what I declared would be “my last class b”. The ability to extend my trips safely was a big factor this time around. For the money, moving to 4wd made sense to me.

Last December I was driving from Tucson to Northern California . There was a light rain all day on the west coast. I was cruising on interstate 5 near Bakersfield when a Travato (promaster) suddenly swerved to the shoulder to avoid a plastic barrel that must of come loose off a pickup. The swerve wasn’t severe, just a slight jerk and drive into the wet shoulder. I pulled up behind the van to give them a little safety, as they needed to eventually pull back into the fast lane… well, we spent the next 45 mins getting that darn Travato out of mud that couldn’t have been three inches deep. My point is, I’ve been there. Don’t want to go there again. I’m not planning on any trips to the Rubicon. But I’d like to feel safe cutting through Truckee/Tahoe in February enroute to the coast.
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Old 11-20-2021, 04:18 PM   #19
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I have an almost 3" lift on my '2012 Chevy Express "b" which puts it at or near 4x4 height but with the standard 2wd chassis.

While the lift is nice for peace of mind ground clearance, the few times we've gone on gravel roads to BLM campsites, we've turned around after a mile or less due to the roughness and shaking such roads due to the interior of the coach. Just not worth shaking things to pieces (at least that's my anxiety).

So although we can go lightly off road, extending that ability with 4x4 holds zero appeal to me.
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Old 11-20-2021, 08:24 PM   #20
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I have an almost 3" lift on my '2012 Chevy Express "b" which puts it at or near 4x4 height but with the standard 2wd chassis.

While the lift is nice for peace of mind ground clearance, the few times we've gone on gravel roads to BLM campsites, we've turned around after a mile or less due to the roughness and shaking such roads due to the interior of the coach. Just not worth shaking things to pieces (at least that's my anxiety).

So although we can go lightly off road, extending that ability with 4x4 holds zero appeal to me.
I am convinced that a standard 2-3 inch lift is often more important (or just as important) than 4wd, itself. It’s a real game changer on the Chevy and Sprinter. I’ve seen positive feedback on the 3 inch Promaster lift. But that could be excitement from some of the early adopters. I’ve experienced crunching the front bumper on a Promaster just pulling up to a standard parking lot curb. One of the upsides to that Ram is the ability to have headspace without a 10 foot roof. Of course, the downside is how low the rig hangs… front and back. But I digress.
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